Wrestling Observer Flashback–09.07.87

It’s Paul Boesch’s farewell show in Houston this week, plus a whole lot of NWA v. WWF analysis from Dave.  Must be yet another slow news week.

– So as promised, Paul Boesch retired as a promoter, going out with a sellout crowd of 10,000 in Houston before a whole host of wrestling legends in attendance (Verne Gagne! Stu Hart! Lou Thesz!)  George Bush even sent a telegram congratulating Paul on his 55 years in the wrestling business.  (That’s VICE President George HW Bush, by the way)

– So now to the main story, as Dave decides to compare WWF to NWA.  Basically he’s been barnstorming the various WWF shows around the country as of late, plus taking in a bunch of Crockett shows, so he feels he can offer a perspective on the differences.  First up, they don’t really compete for the same audience.  Between the ropes, Dave says, it’s no contest.  With the exception of Ted Dibiase, Crockett’s top guys blow away anyone that Vince has to offer.  By the same token, Jimmy Valiant and Bugsy McGraw are much worse than the worst guys in the WWF.  Dave was pretty shocked at the Houston show, for instance, how many guys were blown up in five minutes even working the slow and plodding WWF style.

– As for the shows themselves, Titan blows Crockett away in the presentation and production departments.  The shows look better, the crowd is better behaved, and things are run professionally.  Basically Vince spends so much making his TV shows look and feel like top notch productions that fans are basically tricked into believing they’re watching the best wrestling show on TV.  Plus WWF shows typically end with the good guys winning in the end, so fans go home happy and upbeat and feeling like they got their money’s worth.

– Dave thinks that Crockett’s shows appeal to the hardcore fans, and there’s also another group that he can’t really come up with a proper name for, who are just into sleazy entertainment.  (I believe “Mutants” is the term that ECW’s fanbase would eventually come to embrace)  Basically the Crockett house shows have really started to devolve into a lot of swearing, blood, sex references from Flair, and Dusty Rhodes’ whole routine.  You can safely take your kids to a WWF show to see Hulk Hogan, but Crockett shows are a rowdier affair, with large groups of smarter fans cheering the heels just to be dicks.  Really, Dave notes, Crockett should aim at the hardcores, because trying to draw from the weirdos who just want to see blood and crotch shots is an impossibility.  (Written 10 years before Vince did exactly that!) 

– To the review of the Paul Boesch retirement show!

1.  Sam Houston pinned Steve Lombardi with a bulldog in 14:00.  Sam got a big pop and was enjoying himself, but Lombardi isn’t the guy to get a great match out of him.  Decent for a WWF open.  **

2.  Bruno Sammartino beat Hercules by countout in 6:00.  No reaction in Houston for Bruno, and the match was slow and bad.  Bruno knocked him off the apron for the win.  1/2*

3.  Brutus Beefcake beat Johnny V in a hair v. hair match with the sleeper in 7:30.  1/2*  for the haircut on Johnny, as he was shaved bald.

4.  Tom Pritchard pinned Mark Lewin in 4:00 with an enzuigiri.  Crowd wasn’t into it.  *

5.  Hulk Hogan pinned One Man Gang with the usual in 9:00.  Hogan just controls the crowd at will.  ***

6.  Sherri pinned Moolah in 10:00 to keep the Women’s title.  They messed up whatever the finish was supposed to be so badly that Moolah just kind of laid down and told Sherri to pin her.  **

7.  Junkfood Dog (final vote was 117-19 in favor of nicknames) and Tony Atlas beat Kamala & Sika when Dog pinned Sika in 4:00.  Dog was blown up like Mr. T at WM2 within 90 seconds (Or for a more modern example, like Dada and Kimbo, I guess) and Dave was worried he’d have to be hospitalized for exhaustion before they even got to the hot tag.  -*1/2

8.  Terry Funk pinned Chavo Guerrero with an inside cradle in 7:00.  Great Funk performance, not much wrestling.  **3/4

9.  Ted Dibiase pinned Jim Duggan with the middle rope elbow in 9:30.  Incredible heat for both guys.  Ted worked for two in carrying the match, because Duggan blew up a minute in and then blew out his hamstring during the match as well, necessitating an early finish.  Duggan didn’t impress anyone here.  **1/2  (Which is weird because I’ve heard the opposite, that he was so impressive here that he won his job back!) 

10.  Tito Santana & Mil Mascaras beat Demolition by DQ in 9:00.  Mil wouldn’t work with anyone, and the finish saw Tito trip himself early because Fuji was napping on the outside or something, only to regroup and trip him for the real DQ a minute later.  Apparently Smash got frustrated with Mascaras being such a diva that at one point he took him down with a shoot leg trip to express his displeasure.  **1/4

– Dave also saw the UWF Night of Champions show, which had several **** matches on it and generally sounded awesome.  Someone at the show joked that Flair and Luger should team up as “The 61 Minute Men”.

– Wrestlemania IV will not be the Silverdome, due to basketball playoffs.

– The WWF did TV tapings in San Fran and Fresno over two nights, but switched the tapings at the last minute because the Cow Palace was deemed too ugly for WWF Superstars and it got Challenge instead.  The Bam Bam angle finally happened there, as Bigelow turned down Slick and introduced Humperdink as his new manager.

– Dave attended said tapings and they were kind of a disaster, with terrible matches and the usual crowd burnout after 3 hours and still no main event in sight.  Ted Dibiase debuted a spinning toehold as a new finish, which Dave calls stupid.  (Perhaps a sleeper would be more to his liking?) 

– Dave has amended his thoughts on Rick Rude from last week, as he now thinks he’ll do better than originally thought, but still he’s less than someone like Hercules on the talent charts.

– Randy Savage squashed Omar Atlas late in the show, but the agents forgot to tell the jobber that Savage was going to be cheered, so he tried to work as a babyface and the whole thing was a trainwreck.

– The Rougeaus apparently won the tag titles from the Harts on 8/10 in Montreal, but it got reversed right away and never mentioned on TV.

– Corporal Kirschner has been given an offer to return strictly as a jobber.

– In Baltimore, Hogan and Bruno teamed up for the first (and last) time to beat Bundy and Gang in a nothing match.  The rematches will happen a few times in the Northeast in the next six weeks.  (As it turned out, this was it for Bruno’s career and no one even realized it or took pictures!) 

– Back to the NWA, as Paul Jones is promising a new wrestler from Southern California, who Dave thinks is Steve DiSalvo.  (Not even sure who that actually end up being.  Warlord?  Since we’re getting close to the Powers of Pain.) 

– Starrcade will officially be in Chicago and on PPV, and Dave thinks it’s a big mistake all around to leave home base.  He thinks the city was picked to look better for corporate purposes, but selling out Greensboro and making half a million on the gate would have been much more impressive.

– Dave does note that Warlord may be returning, but he hopes not.

– Dave didn’t see the Tully-Nikita title change, but he heard it was good.  (I did see it, it was good.) 

– Flair’s chest has been pounded raw by Ron Garvin night after night, so to give him a break they booked him against Barry Windham for a bit, and Barry never touched his chest once to give it a chance to heal.

– Down in Florida, Jerry Gray and Bob Cook are getting a decent push as the Mighty Yankees, and notably Gray has been using a finish called a “power bomb” to great effect, which is kind of like a Japanese piledriver.  (See again, evidence that the move came about well before Terry Gordy supposedly invented it.) 

– Larry Nelson’s heart attack was actually an ulcer.  (Ugh, those suck too.) 

– The AWA’s TV tapings are pushing Madusa as a manager of Kevin Kelly and Nick Kiniski in the Sherri role.  Adonis is still there “but acting like he wished that he wasn’t.”

– Inoki injured his knee and had to pull out of the most recent series at the last minute, so sadly I’m going to have to retire that meme for a little while.

– Riki Choshu update:  Still banned from TV.

– Apparently Bigelow got a $5500 bonus for doing the job to Inoki, so I doubt he was complaining too much.

– Bruiser Brody might actually be coming back to All Japan now, unlikely as it sounds.

– Dave corrects the King Kong Kirk bit from last week, noting that he died of a heart attack due to being grossly overweight, and the splash was coincidental.

– And finally, Dave notes that although Crockett has big plans for Starrcade, he’s pretty sure that the WWF is going to do something to screw with them that night and people are going to remember it for a long time.  Just speculation on his part, though.